The 2023/24 Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford Series (NIFF) gets underway on Saturday, with a competitive field expected to line up on the Hampton Downs grid in Waikato. Ahead are six events over the next six months, with two rounds each at Hampton Downs and Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, with Taupo International Motorsport Park to host the second round and a finale yet to be confirmed.
The field will see a number of returning drivers, new rookies and old hands compete for both round, Class and overall honours.
Last season’s NIFF title holder, Dylan Grant, returns in his NAPA Auto Parts Van Diemen with a new engine and is expected to be quick in defending his title.
Mason Potter is back looking for race wins, this time competing in the ex-Kyan Davie/Billy Frazer Spectrum 015. Potter comes fresh from competing in the Winter Series, having shown some pretty quick speed, race wins and consistent results.
Zach Blincoe makes his full-time return and has also been quick in testing and competing in the Winter Series. Blake Dowdall from Palmerston North will compete in his second season in the ex-Louis Sharp Spectrum 015 and will be in the hunt for race wins and overall honours.
Judd Christensen will return to the series with a freshly rebuilt engine in his ex-Hartly Stealth (now a class one car), as does Nick Buxeda in his Class 1 Van Diemen and Keith Miller will also compete in a Van Diemen.
Grant Campbell joins the competition in his Class 2 Swift, as does Shane Drake in a Class 2 Van Diemen. This year sees an exciting prize for the NZ Formula Ford Championship Class 2 winner after moving the Stealth cars into the Class 1 category. Toyota Gazoo Racing has put up an FT50 test for the winner of Class 2 to encourage these entry-level drivers and cars back into Formula Ford.
Rookie Toby McCormack could be the one to watch in the 01 Van Diemen Scholarship car. Competing in the Winter Series he twice put the car on pole and fought hard with rivals Blinco, Seb Manson, Potter and Grant.
Also joining the category moving up from Formula First is rookie Reagan Edwards driving the ex-Eddie Kim Spectrum 015, last successfully campaigned by Callum Crawley.
A substantial Rookie prize (to be confirmed) will be offered this year by NIFF to the highest-placed rookie. Last season it was a real duel-out between Blake Dowdall and Dylan Grant, which went down to the final race of the season.
The opening round is part of the Auckland Car Club one-day meeting. While these events have the same number of races as the two-day events, the points and awards are still the same, but there is no room for errors or DNFs as the tight format could take you out of more than one race.
This season again sees a $500 cash prize for the fastest qualifier provided by the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy. The award is part of the $60,000 Formula Ford prize pool from the Tony Quinn Foundation with funding for travel and testing opportunities with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing NZ.
Qualifying is followed by two 10-lap races and a 12-lap finale. Returning is the NAPA Auto Parts driver of the day $200+gst trade voucher.
Words & Images: Supplied
2023/24 NIFF Schedule
|Rd1||28 October||Hampton Downs|
|Rd4||23-24 March||Hampton Downs|